It’ll be a gallery – ‘No Fu’-ling

By Friday, the now-bare walls of Kathe and Jeff Fraga’s new gallery at 199 Winslow Way will boast an array of island art. - ROGERICK ANAS/Staff Photo
By Friday, the now-bare walls of Kathe and Jeff Fraga’s new gallery at 199 Winslow Way will boast an array of island art.
— image credit: ROGERICK ANAS/Staff Photo

The storefront at 166 Winslow Way is wrapped in brown paper that conceals the new business opening there Friday.

Several signs on the door – that read “Tofu Emporium: No Fu Like Tofu” and “Hamburger on a Stick – the biggest idea in fast food since hot dog on a stick” just deepen the mystery.

“We’ll have the real sign by Friday,” said Kathe Fraga, who, with husband Jeff Fraga, is transforming the former Deering Music Store into Gallery Fraga, a new showcase for arts and crafts.

But the Fragas say that the phony signs are a real sign of the spirit they wish to infuse into the business venture: fun and fantasy.

“It’s going to be a fun store to run,” Jeff Fraga said. “We’ve already had a lot of fun putting it together.”

Gallery Fraga will show art and crafts by local artisans that range from comic book art to paintings, and everything in between.

In the opening show of landscapes by islander Greg Skei and blown glass by Suzanne Guttman, viewers can glimpse the breadth of the gallery’s art works.

Following in December will be “Handmade Holiday Hoopla,” a show that will embrace work of all kinds, Kathe Fraga says.

Although the split of proceeds between artists and gallery has yet to be determined, the owners have decided not to make artists show with Gallery Fraga exclusively.

“That seems unfair to the artists,” Fraga said.

Fraga, whose 7-foot-tall paper mache giraffe lives in the Bainbridge public library, and her husband – a freelance corporate communications and marketing writer – will draw on their marketing savvy to make their gallery a business success.

And artist friends like Anne Briggs and Robyn Krutch are lending a hand, painting the white walls and the “red room” that will house the “really surprising art works,” Fraga said.

The Fragas say they will forge alliances with other island arts groups. For the opening show, Bainbridge Performing Arts has lent the gallery props in the form of foam rocks to display Guttman’s glass.

Although the space has been transformed in just a few weeks, the idea has been brewing for years, Fraga says – ever since she became co-director for “Christmas in the Country,” the collective show of island artists and craftspersons.

The couple’s interest in visual art was first piqued by their time living in Beaux Arts near Bellevue. The village of 300 was founded in 1905 by Seattle Times editorial cartoonist Frank Calvert as an artists’ colony.

“We stumbled onto it,” Fraga said. ‘There were these little tiny houses. It’s completely self-contained, with their own mayor, their own phone book.”

As their three children grew older, the family outgrew the small community, moving to the island in 1998.

“We came to Bainbridge because we wanted a larger Beaux Arts,” Fraga said.

The Fragas hope their gallery will help foster the sense of community they value by being a comfortable place for island artists to hang out.

Although they have not made final decisions about the store’s hours, the Fragas say the doors will stay open longer than the 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. many galleries keep.

“It’s going tobe more like 24 hours a day,” Fraga said. “I’m going to bring my bed and sleep here.”

* * * * *

Fraga Gallery, 166 Winslow Way, opens to the public Friday with an artists’ reception from 6-8 p.m.s

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